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Injury to Industry

A Student's Business Management Journey

November 16, 2020

Three years ago, Josh Lichtfuss didn’t so much decide to start a new career as he was forced into one. After nearly ten years with his employer, he suffered a back injury. Two surgeries, several injections, and countless hours of physical therapy later, it became clear that he would not be able to return to his previous work. “I knew the only way to get back to work was to get some more education,” Josh said. After conducting significant research about where and what he wanted to study, acutely aware that it had been 18 years since he last set foot in a classroom, Josh chose to pursue a Business Management degree from Blackhawk Tech.

Josh in a gray dress shirt standing in the courtyard

(Pictured: Josh Lichtfuss in the Courtyard on Central Campus)

Now that he’s solidly into the program, Josh can see how his business degree will open doors for him. A business degree isn’t just one thing. Instead, it trains students to join a management team, open and operate their own business, or act as a business analyst.

The business management program has pushed Josh out of his comfort zone in a variety of ways. Managers work with and coordinate teams, which means that many business classes require significant group work.

To help him increase his confidence and comfort with some of these projects, Josh joined the Blackhawk Chapter of the Business Professionals of America (BPA). He enjoyed it so much that this is his second year serving as the BPA president on campus.

Business Professionals of America is the leading Career and Technical Student Organization for students pursuing careers in business management, office administration, information technology, and other related career fields. BPA has 43,000 members in over 2,300 chapters in 23 states, Puerto Rico, China, and Peru. The mission of Business Professionals of America is to prepare a world-class workforce by advancing leadership, citizenship, academic, and technological skills.

Along with providing support and connection to business students, the BPA hosts the yearly Workplace Skills Assessment Program. This competitive program allows students the opportunity to practice their skills in real-world situations and earn awards each year at the annual state leadership conference.

Despite the excitement of pursuing a new career path, Josh has had his share of struggles. “I had to relearn a lot of math. I had to learn how to write in business format for assignments,” he said. “There were struggles with figuring out how to structure my schedule to accommodate coursework.”

One example Josh gave is how he started taking an accounting class that met once a week for several hours. It was too much information at one time. After assessing why he was struggling, Josh transitioned to a class that met multiple times a week, which proved to be successful for him.

When the pandemic forced students online, that posed another challenging adjustment. “The instructors were incredibly accommodating and mindful that this was going to be a struggle for some students,” Josh explained. “They made themselves available to students to make sure there wasn’t a gap in learning for anybody.”

Josh lauds business instructors Jeff Kropp, Joel Schluesner, and Julia Baldivieso for helping students through the current national crisis. Josh also appreciates how these instructors allow students to take on topics and encourage classroom discussion to facilitate understanding. The admiration is mutual. Joel Schluesner attributes much of Josh’s success to the way he has shown initiative by immersing himself in student activities. Joel also appreciates that, along with engaging with the BTC community, Josh donates his time to a local homeless shelter.

Now Josh is planning for life after Blackhawk. He and his fiancée are planning to move to South Carolina, get married, and purchase their first home closer to their family once Josh finds a new management position.

Josh wants to encourage students who are considering going back to school after a long time away as he did. “My best advice to you,” he said, “would be to believe in yourself. Believe in the knowledge you have gained while working for years. You will find that you are more knowledgeable about the materials discussed in class than you thought you were.”

Interested in learning more about the BPA? Contact BTC student engagement specialist Megan Wisnowski at mwisnowski@blackhawk.edu.

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